Advice on the house, Collazo worth +325 bet

May 9, 2006 2:00 AM

My spy has returned from the Poconos where Luis Collazo, who in case you were wondering, holds the WBAssinine welterweight title (at least at this writing), has been training for a defense against the heavily favored Ricky Hatton.

My spy says, "This is a very, very live underdog."

I trust my spy. I don’t know if Collazo, at +325 last I looked, will win. Hatton at -425, is after all No. 9 on my pound-for-pound list. The undefeated conqueror of Kostya Tszyu made the big, bad Russian quit and then added another 140-pound title by demolishing Carlos (Mighty) Maussa, who had knocked out Vivian Harris last year.

Somehow, politics being politics and the alphabets able to spell both "incompetent" and "corrupt," Hatton has been stripped of both junior welterweight titles. Who cares? He signed to challenge Collazo for the WBAssinie 147-pound championship, though there is a question now as to the sanctioning of the May 13 fight in Boston.

This will be Hatton’s debut with HBO after a career of being fed softies on Showtime for promoter Frank Warren. It was the fighter himself, and trainer/father, who demanded that Warren stop the pablum and give him some meat and potatoes on which to gnaw.

Hatton has since broken with Warren, signed on in this country with Art Pelullo, and moved up to the major leagues. Twice in the last year, he turned down the most meaningful 140-pound matchup possible, a showdown with the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. Maybe he has a good feeling to know that this clash needs some more buildup. Or maybe he’s making a huge mistake by taking on a tall southpaw, who can move and box and reminds Mayweather’s attorney, John Hornewer, of a young Hector Camacho.

There have been numerous times when so-called "tune-ups" have changed the landscape. Michael Bentt knocked out Tommy Morrison in the first round in Tulsa, thus thwarting a multi-million-dollar payday against Lennox Lewis — speaking of whom, never did get to fight Riddick Bowe.

Lately, promoters have been ignoring the results of the tune-ups. Erik Morales lost to Zahir Raheem and still got his pay-per-view date with Manny Pacquiao. Zab Judah was upset by Carlos Baldomir and, though it cost him a pretty penny, still was allowed to go through with his beating by Floyd Mayweather Jr.

But if Hatton loses here, he can forget the big paydays. He will be dismissed, unfairly, as another over-hyped "foreigner." Thing is, losing to Collazo should not be considered a disaster. The kid from Brooklyn can flat out box.

Collazo won his title by upsetting the capable Jose Antonio Rivera in Rivera’s home town of Worcester, Mass. He has beaten up Miguel Angel Gonzalez, no great feat perhaps, but he accomplished it a lot more tidily than Zab Judah did.

My spy, who grew up in the Kronk Gym and has traipsed all over the world to watch the sweet science, said Collazo exudes confidence.

There are other reasons that Hatton is not worth his price. The man from Manchester does not match well against elusive southpaws. Hatton’s steamrolling style can be counterpunched.

My spy says Collazo is in great shape. At -425 against a very, very capable boxer, this is one time the underdog is worth the price. Just don’t go crazy. Hatton is the house fighter.